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American Logan Sargeant getting FP1 shot; Hamilton, Bottas support other series.
Formula 1 has headed off for its summer recess after a run of four Grands Prix in five weekends. Autoweek wraps up some of the off-track news from the Hungarian GP.
Sebastian Vettel’s retirement decision, and Fernando Alonso’s shock switch to replace him at Aston Martin for 2023, means two of the biggest names involved in the silly season have made their respective choices.
Any more seismic news from this point onwards is unlikely (though not necessarily impossible). The second seats at AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, and Haas remain unconfirmed, but Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu are both likely to remain for 2023.
Haas, meanwhile, is set to make a call in September on the seat that is influenced by power unit partner Ferrari and currently occupied by an improving Mick Schumacher.
Williams is the team where a change is most probable. Williams CEO Jost Capito told German media at Hungary that Alexander Albon is expected to stay—he is a good fit at the team and has performed well in his comeback season. Less assured is Nicholas Latifi (pictured above), now in year three at Williams, with his financial backing having assisted Williams through rocky waters.
Logan Sargeant will make his grand prix weekend debut on home soil in Austin on Oct. 21. Sargeant will drive Williams’ FW44 in place of Latifi for the opening one-hour Friday practice session. The Formula 2 racer joined Williams’ young driver program in late 2021 and then had an outing in last year’s car at the end-of-season rookie test. This will be Sargeant’s first on-track run in a Grand Prix event.
“To be given the chance at the US Grand Prix is something extremely special to me,” said Sargeant. “The goal for me will be to learn as much as possible in the new generation of cars. I’m looking forward to making the most of this experience and really enjoying it.”
Williams Sporting Director Sven Smeets outlined that “Logan has demonstrated a great level of ability and maturity so far this season through his accomplishments both on and off the track. He’s delivered race-winning performances in Formula 2 matched by his hard work during simulator sessions. It felt only right to reward these achievements with the opportunity for him to take part in a free practice session at Austin.”
There was an unusual outcome to Saturday’s rain-hit practice session at the Hungaroring. As drivers switched to Intermediate tires, times began to tumble, with the usual suspects trading top spot. When the checkered flag fell it was the only full-time driver without a 2022 point—Nicholas Latifi—who wound up fastest. The fans applauded Latifi’s achievement and there was a huge cheer, too, in the media center for a surprise result.
“I was pleasantly surprised, even before going P1,” said Latifi on the pace. “Everyone was doing lap times at the same time on track. We did something right and I’m clearly not a bad driver. It is still difficult to drive—it was a nice moral victory, nice morale boost.”
However, come the dry qualifying session Williams and Latifi regressed to the mean, with a mistake through the final corner relegating him to last on the grid.
“I mean, that’s literal hero to zero,” he joked afterwards.
Lewis Hamilton Visits W Series
W Series received a high-profile guest in Hungary when Lewis Hamilton took a trip to the support race paddock to meet championship organizers and the drivers. Hamilton explained that he had watched most of the races and had long wanted to get across to the other paddock and find out more.
“It’s great we have W Series but we as a sport need to do way more for young girls getting into the sport,” said Hamilton. “For these women, there’s no [career] progression from W Series [and] it’s been three years now.”
On-track in W Series, Alice Powell resisted a surge from Jamie Chadwick to claim her first win of the year and end the reigning double champion’s unbeaten start to 2022. Chadwick nonetheless holds a commanding 75-point advantage with four rounds left and is all but assured of a third straight title.
Alpine Academy member Olli Caldwell has been suspended from the next round of the Formula 2 season in Belgium after hitting 12 penalty points in Hungary.
Rookie Caldwell racked up a whopping seven on debut in Bahrain: two for being out of position at the start, and five for various track limits infringements. More penalty points came in Saudi Arabia for impeding, and in Italy, for unsafe pit lane driving and impeding once more. In Austria and Hungary, track limits breaches came with penalty points, the last of those bringing Caldwell up to the 12-point mark that triggers a one-round suspension.
Williams F1 test driver Roy Nissany is, meanwhile, on the cusp of also having to sit out an event after reaching 11 penalty points in Hungary.
As for the race, Sauber-backed youngster Théo Pourchaire claimed victory in Hungary to close to within 21 points of points leader Felipe Drugovich.
Valtteri Bottas has long been a fan of cycling and in his time off has taken part in endurance mountain bike competitions, faring reasonably well.
Bottas’ partner, Tiffany Cromwell, competes professionally in road cycling for the Canyon/Sram Racing team and has been part of the Tour de France Femmes, reviving the female version of the famous event for the first time since 2009. Bottas followed the TDFF from the race director’s car between Grand Prix in France and Hungary, and was pictured handing out bottles during the feed zone as he got involved in the action.
“It was very cool to witness this amazing event for a couple of stages,” he said. “If you didn’t go this year, make sure you don’t miss next year’s TDFF. It’s great to see women’s sport getting well-deserved exposure!”